As I mentioned yesterday, watching the Royal Wedding last Friday got me thinking about a lot of different things. So today I want to talk a little bit more about love, marriage and chronic illness.
In Sickness and In Health
As I listened to Prince William and his bride Kate recite their wedding vows, I thought about the words Robert and I exchanged at our wedding. I actually went searching for the vows we decided to use for our wedding and found them tucked away in a box of memories from that time, almost 13 years ago. Here are the words we said to each other on our wedding day:
I take you to be my spouse, in equal love, as a mirror for my true self, as a partner on my path, to honor and cherish, in sorrow and in joy, till death do us part.
I also discovered the words the officiant at our wedding, the captain of a Hornblower Dining Yacht out of Marina del Rey, said to us:
Robert and Selena, you have come here today to fulfill the promise you have made, each to the other, before your family and friends. You come to combine your two separate lives into one.Back then neither one of us knew that chronic illness would become part of both of our lives. Even though I am the one that is sick, my chronic illnesses have a profound impact on my husband and our marriage. Because of chronic illness, both of our lives have been disrupted and we have needed to make changes on many different levels. Fortunately, we continue to learn to share what life brings us and do our best, separately and together, to cope with this difficult situation.
As you begin to share your lives together, never forget you are two separate people. Cherish and affirm your differences. Love each other. Keep your commitment to each other and your marriage. Together you will share what life brings to you: joys and sorrows, sickness and health, prosperity and scarcity.
Live, Love, Laugh
Much to my surprise, I also found words of wisdom amidst the program from our wedding. The officiant said the following things to us as well:
To ensure a healthy, lasting marriage, always, always value each other. Although you may disagree, remember to respect each other's feelings, needs and wants. And above all, do not lose your sense of humor. Remember to continue to grow, sometimes together, sometimes separately. Love and life are always changing, always new.Although neither one of us remember these words spoken almost 13 years ago, they nevertheless are words that we continue to live by. I am truly lucky to have a spouse who is there for me, no matter what. It's not always pretty, but at the end of the day we do value and respect each other and certainly have not lost our sense of humor.
Marriage is intended not to provide haven from pain, anger and sorrow. Instead, marriage is intended to provide a sanctuary safe enough to risk loving, living and sharing from the center of one's self. Marriage is a covenant that says: "I love you. I trust you. I will be here for you."
We know firsthand that life is always changing. Separately and together, we grow to meet the challenges.
Partners on the Path
As exciting as weddings are, they are but a moment in time. As I watched the Royal Wedding on Friday, I couldn't help but wonder what lies ahead on the path for Prince William and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge. Beyond the fairytale, I can see that being married to a member of the nobility is quite a challenge indeed. For all the perks, I am sure there are some pretty high prices to pay.
In my own situation, I can see that chronic illness exacts a price on my own marriage. It certainly is a reminder that life is not fair. So far, the partnership I share my husband has been able to weather the storm.
The truth is no one knows for sure what lies ahead on our paths in life. Having a partner to share the pain, anger and sorrow, whether that be a spouse, a family member or a friend, can certainly make the journey more bearable. We all need people in our lives to love and nurture and support us and I am fortunate that my husband is committed to being one of those people.